When Jim and I, with a talented group of writers and photographers, decided to start working on The Heavy Table in late 2008, we quickly came to a clear mission: to share the stories of food and beverage that weren’t otherwise told and to deliver them in an engaging way online. When we sat down last month to give the site a facelift, we also affirmed that our mission hasn’t changed. In fact, our mission has strengthened and expanded.
In the last four years or so, we (including you) have watched and in ways have been a part of the incredible growth of the food and beverage scene. Eating local for more and more people has moved from “a good idea when I can” to “normal.” Craft brew has gone from niche to commonplace. Street food, in Minneapolis-St. Paul at least, has gone from essentially illegal to daily routine. I could go on and on…
At the same time, how people read and consume content online has evolved dramatically. When we were starting the site, we were thinking about the ramifications of linking out to the blogosphere every day, having full RSS feeds instead of truncated ones, and figuring out how a contest on Twitter might work or if putting our content on Facebook even made any sense. These days it’s hard to keep up with everyone writing about food, tons of major media outlets now have their own multiperson food blogs, and organizations who aren’t sharing their stream of content freely on social channels are becoming a quickly dying breed.
While it might seem like things are getting crowded, I think we actually have more space now than we did before. There are more people eager to read, hear, and learn about — and engage with — the increasingly prevalent purveyors of local food and beverage. And the number of active purveyors has grown so quickly that the media strains to cover it all well. I think that’s good news for everyone.
Back to the mission and our refreshed site: Our daily stories are still the first thing to read, and future pieces will be in a slightly wider format and never paginated. Our Tweet Rodeo will take the form of retweets on @heavytable and our local Recipe Roundup as well as links to beautiful local food photos are moving to Pinterest. Our offbeat local stuff will expand on Tumblr, and we’re going to continue developing lists and tips from our stories on Foursquare. The Churn is upgrading out of its little sidebar to a larger and more complete roundup of daily happenings and will also highlight what we’re up to on the other platforms.
Moving forward, comments will be on the Facebook platform instead of the WordPress platform, and the whole site is now built in a responsive manner so mobile, tablet, and computer versions are the same. (For fun, if you’re not familiar with responsive design, make this browser window really thin and watch what happens.)
All of these changes are about bringing things to where it’s easier for you to get, use, and share.
We’ve removed some ad spaces and stripped away a lot of our sidebars. We’re continuing to remove more clutter and expand on what we think we do well. This refresh is still a work in progress with some broken and missing pieces; there’ll be more in the coming weeks. Promise!
As for the mission strengthening and expanding: It’s not just about telling stories, it’s really about connecting folks to the people who make what we eat and drink. I think this rings especially true with our North Coast Nosh events, and that’s really what the focus of this site has evolved into.
Thank you for being a part of it.
I want to express my thanks to all of the writers, photographers, editors, and all those who have been involved with The Heavy Table past and present. I’m honored to be part of this with you. I also want to thank Ian Davis of Go East who designed our first iteration of The Heavy Table: It served us quite well, sir!
Let us know what you think. Leave a comment or send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org . Thank you.